by Donald L. Johnson

There are over 1,256,000 software developers in the U.S. workforce with one-third employed as systems software developers and two-thirds employed as applications software developers. Together, employment for software developers is projected to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Software developers will be needed to respond to an increased demand for computer software. Demand for applications software developers, including mobile app development, is projected to be even greater, growing 31 percent over the 2016 to 2026 period. Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks. Most jobs in this field require a degree in computer science and strong computer programming skills. Software developers are in charge of the entire development process for a software program from identifying the core functionality that users need from software programs to determining requirements that are unrelated to the functions of the software, such as the level of security and performance. Software developers design each piece of an application or system and plan how the pieces will work together. This often requires collaboration with other computer specialists to create optimum software.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for applications software developments was $101,790 in May 2017 and $107,600 for systems software developers. By comparison, the median pay in May 2017 for all occupations was $37,690. Jobs for applications systems developers are projected grow four times faster than for all occupations and more than two times faster that all computer-related occupations.

Projected Employment Growth, Software Developers, 2016-2026

software developer job outlook

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2018.

About the author
Donald L. Johnson has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Tennessee and serves as senior researcher and principle investigator for ORISE workforce studies. With more than 20 years of experience in surveying both industry and academia, he has conducted dozens of analyses related to science and engineering labor market trends, and on issues such as workforce skills, adequacy of labor supply, education requirements and employment demand.